CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers #13: Heart Like A Wheel
Reviewed by Blackjack
"But the time for talk is done."
Proof that whatever Nick Roche touches turns gold. For starters, there is the art. Simply put, the characters here truly feel like they are emoting, compared to Don's patchwork mouths. And best of all, Nick Roche, being the awesome bloke that he is, uses Don Figueroa's designs instead of redoing everyone in their Sunbow cartoon bodies like Guido was forced to do. It's a nice touch. However, Roche does seem to be having an off day, since his work here isn't quite up to the lofty standards he himself had set. Roddy's nose, in particular, is really... pronounced in some frames. It's still heads and shoulders compared to the rather off-quality art from Guido (is he sick again?) for last issue.
Seems like they are going on a different art style ever six issues — Don Figueroa's movieverse inspired redesigns for the first six, more conventional Guido/Su based art for the next six, and hopefully Nick Roche for the following issues, if solicitations are anything to go by.
After that horrible mini-arc with International Incident (and probably due to fan feedback), Costa finally turns back to the more interesting 'space' plot he began in issue seven. Hopefully these kind of gems won't need five months in between to appear. It's an admirable move to simply shove aside all the banal clutter from issue twelve and pick up where we left off in issues six and seven. In fact, take out the whole International Incident arc out of the picture, and the story would've proceeded much smoother—and better, too.
Rodimus/Hot Rod's monologue is great, although I suspect the continuity dropping might be Roche's work rather than Costa's. Meanwhile, Costa has finally gotten the hang of Hot Rod's character — he now really feels like the gung-ho guy from the Dead Furmanverse and AHM who would do everything it takes to right his wrongs. A much better characterization than the na´ve idiot we had, I say.
Megatron's return is handled with the right amount of drama, while Starscream has simply flown off the far end in terms of his sanity, most likely due to the burden of leadership. All three main characters are superbly executed, which leads me to wonder how Costa had managed to screw up so many other characters. Rodimus' descent, and his fight with Acid Storm and the Insecticons are so well done.
That said, though, there are some bits that I dislike. Razorclaw, after being spared the humiliation of appearing in issue twelve, gets to be played like a total idiot here, although the fact that it was caused by a cerebro-shell (which, presumably, had not been perfected yet) does mitigate things a bit. His seeming death (Starscream might've avoided vital circuits, no?) would be a poor exit, though.
While it's entertaining to watch Starscream break down, it's a little iffy, to say the least. And Rodimus, floating out in space, with the Matrix around his neck... well, we all know what's going to happen, right? The Matrix will heal Rodimus next issue or sometime later, and whoop-de-doo, we are all surprised when he returns.
Megatron's sudden distaste for the Matrix is kind of jarring, considering that in AHM Megs was the one that coveted the Matrix while Starscream was the one that passed it off as a mere trinket. Although the three year gap, with Megatron observing what Starscream had became after possessing the Matrix, might've done something about it. Megatron is again portrayed as a no-nonsense, brooding super-Decepticon from his Furmanverse days instead of the verbose self-designated genius in AHM.
Overall, though, this story is excellent. It's far from LSOTW, certainly, but it is pretty close to the admirable issues four and seven of the ongoing, with a character carrying each issue and driving the plot forwards instead of the chaotic mess of the International Incident arc. If Nick Roche's writing skills would be imparted, ever so slightly, to Mike Costa, there might be hope for the ongoing. Hope. Something that I've been trying (and failing) to keep up with IDW's output. Still, this issue is a nice read after the mess before. Hopefully IDW will wisen up and employ Nick Roche as the editor and main writer.
The Don Figueroa cover for this issue is based on a scene on the original Transformers the Movie where Galvatron, with the Matrix chained around his neck, chokes the life out of Hot Rod. Only here it's Starscream instead of Galvatron.
Rodimus mentions a similar trick where he allows his shuttle to be blown up. This happens waaaaay back in Spotlight: Hot Rod, also drawn by Nick Roche. Hot Rod/Rodimus (it isn't clear which name he is using, but since he was last called Rodimus in issue 6, we'll use that for now. Even though I like Hot Rod better...) is based on Don Figueroa's design for him in the first few issues of the ongoing, albeit drawn in Nick's style. Ditto for the rest of the characters.
Ultra Magnus' ship has state-of-the-art tracking equipment, something that he utilized frequently during the Dead Furmanverse series. Hid armoury contains, among others, spare shoulder missiles, those limpet mines he used in Spotlight Arcee and one of the guns from the Classics Optimus Prime toy.
Megatron is an based on an unused concept done by Don Figueroa for the ongoing. It is somewhat reminiscent of the 'Super Megatron' design from the obscure Japanese Zone series, seemingly hybridized with War for Cybertron and/or Animated Megatron. He's also jet-black now, in a colour scheme based on the 'Shadow Blade Megatron' repaint seen in the Animated and ROTF lines. His fusion cannon has been replaced with a new weapon that for some reason reminds me of the super railgun from ROTF.
After his initial cameo in issue seven, Acid Storm finally got himself his first-ever lines after twenty five years. For those who don't know, Acid Storm is a recently-released toy based on a generic nameless Seeker that was part of Shockwave's elite 'Rainmaker' group featured in the G1 episode 'Divide and Conquer'. Instead of his Classics toy, however, Acid Storm now has his body designed after the Masterpiece Starscream toy, a design that the Seekers use during AHM.
From this issue, Bombshell's cerebro shells in the IDW continuity seem to make those infected with it susceptible to outside influence, instead of putting the victims under Bombshell's control. Of course, Bombshell being unconscious at that moment might've factored...
Razorclaw, like his fellow Predacons on Earth, has his beast mode now. Presumably Razorclaw was on Earth during the events of AHM and got his beast mode there.
The art is pretty vague on whether Razorclaw died. Or, for the matter, if Acid Storm and the Insecticons are merely incapacitated or truly dead. Hopefully not, though... personally, I really love those four.
The title of this issue is named after Linda Ronstadt's hit 1974 album. Or the 1983 movie. Or several other songs sung by a bunch of other people as well...
It's kind of difficult to believe that someone like Ultra Magnus would simply forget to lock his weapons case.
On page seven, Bombshell's Decepticon brand is much darker than the rest of him.
Nick Roche (who always included insignias in his pencils) seems to deliberately not put the Decepticon insignia on Starscream's wings. Thus, when the editor photoshopped insignias in, they appear and disappear from frame to frame.
If Rodimus got himself the Matrix, then what? How would he escape from the Decepticon asteroid, when the Decepticons themselves are unable to do so?
So how exactly did Soundwave get the energy and resources to revive Megatron?
The part between Astrotrain's neck and his shoulders are coloured white, when in AHM they were purple.
Rodimus: Bold moves from here on out. It's what I'm good at, anyway.
Rodimus: And he also has an armory of weapons in a safe made out of meter-thick osmium alloy that nothing short of Omega Supreme could penetrate. Good thing he left it open.
Shrapnel: "Idiot's on a suicide mission, let's give him what he wants."
Starscream: "I'm starting to wonder if my biggest problem is having a lieutenant that can't handle problems."
Rodimus: Impossible odds never stopped me before
Rodimus: "Oh, I'm not going to shoot you. I'll shoot the Matrix."
Starscream: "You wouldn't. That's crazy."
Rodimus: "You don't know me very well."
Rodimus: I am destined to do this. And you can't deny destin-
Megatron: "Just swatting a gnat."